May 2020 Wrap Up

This month has been really warm here in the UK. It’s felt like summer not spring! I’m still working from home full time which provides some structure to my days. I’m happy with the amount of reading and writing I have managed to do this month during my down time.

Reading

My first read of the month was The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book was okay but I didn’t love it. I don’t think it was for me. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas was such a good conclusion to the original ACOTAR trilogy and I’m excited to read more books in this series. I took part in the readalong for Fairyloot’s delayed March box which was for Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie. It’s a really imaginative YA fantasy but I didn’t love it as much as some other YA fantasy I have read. 

I’m currently reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins which I had pre-ordered! The Hunger Games is one of my favourite series so I couldn’t wait to return to that world. I won’t say more until I’ve finished reading it, expect a review in the next few days!

Book Haul

My copy of Illumicrate’s special edition of Aurora Burning arrived and it’s gorgeous. The original cover is orange but their edition has a blue cover and edges and it looks amazing. The other exclusive edition I received was Bone Crier’s Moon in Fairyloot’s March box. Burn is one of my anticipated books of the year. I’m really curious to see what Patrick Ness does with dragons! I also got A Darker Shade of Magic on my Kindle because I’ve been meaning to try a V. E. Schwab book for ages so now I’ll hopefully actually get round to reading it.

Writing

I’ve been doing more research and planning for my King Arthur retelling. It’s going well so I will be continuing planning in June with the idea of hopefully taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo in July, but more on that nearer the time.

What books did you enjoy reading this month? What have you been getting up to? Let me know in the comments!  

Let’s Talk Bookish: Subscription Boxes

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. This week’s topic is ‘Subscription Boxes’.

I only discovered bookish subscription boxes last year but they’ve been around for a little while now. The basic idea is that once a month you get a box in the post that includes a new release book and a few bookish items. Some companies also offer book only or item only options. Sounds appealing right? That’s exactly what I thought when I discovered book boxes existed. It’s super exciting waiting for the box to arrive and then the surprise of opening it since you don’t know what’s going to be inside! Plus, they often do special edition boxes for big new releases in which all the items are themed around that book/series e.g. Chain of Gold, Queen of Nothing.

So far, I have tried Fairyloot, Illumicrate and Book Box Club which are all UK based. I haven’t tried any US based ones yet as shipping is really expensive. I’ve only had one box from Illumicrate so far and while I liked it, I didn’t feel there was as much included as the Fairyloot boxes I’ve had. Literally just this week I had my first Book Box Club box. The May theme was around dragons which I absolutely adore so this theme was just perfect for me. However, it didn’t feel like there was much in the box, there were only a few small items. Unlike Illumicrate and Fairyloot who offer exclusive editions (usually with sprayed edges, exclusive cover design etc), the books included in Book Box Club appear to be just the standard editions. What Book Box Club does offer though is a member-exclusive book group with the author of the featured book which sounds really cool, though I haven’t tried it out yet since I only just got my first box from them.

In comparison, the three monthly Fairyloot boxes I’ve had so far (October, February and March) seem to offer better value for money than the Illumicrate and Book Box Club ones I’ve had. They were full to the brim with a mixture of great small and larger items. So out of the three, Fairyloot stands out to me as the best in terms of their monthly boxes.

I recently received the special edition boxes for Chain of Gold from Illumicrate and Fairyloot. In this case, I think it was the Illumicrate box that was the best. All the items worked really well together and were unique and interesting. I was blown away by how amazing their box was. From looking at their past special edition boxes, Illumicrate seem to be really good at these.

I don’t think I will become a regular subscriber to a book subscription box as much as I would love to.  They are quite expensive. By the time VAT and shipping is added the monthly boxes come to roughly £32. The other problem is that the kinds of items included do seem to be a bit repetitive, so I can imagine ending up with lots of similar items that I don’t know what to do with. I would be more likely to subscribe if there was less repetition and more unique items in each box. Also, as the contents are a surprise (which to be fair is part of what makes receiving them exciting) there is the potential to be disappointed so it can be a bit hit and miss.

As I have a lot more time for reading at the moment due to not being able to go anywhere, I will probably get a few more boxes this year. Plus, I need something to look forward to right now. I’m in the at risk group so I can’t go anywhere, not even to the supermarket! Receiving book boxes will provide some much-needed bright spots in what is quite a difficult time right now. When things get back to normal though I will probably go back to just getting the occasional box as a treat.  

How do you feel about subscription boxes? Are you subscribed to any? Which would you recommend? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!   

Book Review: Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: March 2020 by Katherine Tegan Books (Fairyloot edition)  

Pages: 453

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Bone Crier’s Moon is an imaginative, fast-paced young adult fantasy. I was expecting romance to play a bigger part, but this book has a wider focus. The novel is told from three first person perspectives – Ailesse, Bastien and Sabine.

The magic system and world building in this book are creative and enchanting. The Leuress ferry the dead once a month, guiding them on to Tyrus’s underworld or to Elara’s paradise. They draw their magic from the grace bones of animals. A Leuress has to kill an animal and take one of its bones (warning: there are a few animal deaths in this book). When they wear this bone, they take on the graces of that animal, for example enhanced hearing or strength. In order to become a ferrier, the Leuress have to complete a rite of passage in which they kill their soul mate. The mythology of the bone crier’s is so vivid and it’s such an interesting idea. I loved discovering more about them and I hope we’ll gain even more insight into their magic and their role as ferriers of the dead in the next book.

Sabine was definitely my favourite character. She finds having to kill animals in order to get grace bones very conflicting. She isn’t even sure she wants to be a ferrier. I liked seeing her character grow over the course of the novel. I didn’t connect with Ailesse as much at the start, but she definitely grew on me. I also loved the strength of their friendship and how it drives them. Unfortunately, I felt we didn’t get to know Bastien well enough. I didn’t like or dislike his character; I just didn’t feel like I knew him as well as the two other POV characters. Odiva, Ailesse’s mother, was an interesting character. I knew there was something fishy about her from the start, but I couldn’t have guessed what the truth actually was!

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Fairyloot March 2020 Unboxing

I finally received my March Fairyloot box last week! It was delayed due to coronavirus but it got here in the end and that’s what matters!

Fairyloot is a UK-based YA fantasy subscription box. If you subscribe, you get a box a month which includes a hardback book and 5-6 exclusive goodies around a theme. Or you can get a single purchase and just buy a one-off box.

This month’s theme was ‘Break the Curse’. I was excited for this box because I guessed from the description that the book would be one of my most anticipated reads for 2020. Without further ado, here’s what was inside.

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Fairyloot Chain of Gold Unboxing

My Fairyloot Chain of Gold Collector’s Edition box finally arrived! It was delayed by more than a month due to the coronavirus crises, which was obviously completely out of Fairyloot’s hands. I felt they did a good job of keeping us informed about the delays as they got new information. Since I ordered it in January it meant there was quite a long wait to finally get my hands on my first Collector’s Edition box and I was super excited to open it and see what was inside.

Included in the box were a special edition of Chain of Gold and four items, one of which was already revealed by Fairyloot to be a replica of the Mortal Cup. So let’s see what was inside…

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Fairyloot February 2020 Unboxing

This is my second Fairyloot box and I was super excited to receive it!

Fairyloot is a UK-based YA fantasy subscription box. If you subscribe, you get a box a month which includes a hardback book and 5-6 exclusive goodies around a theme. You can subscribe monthly, or there are 3 month and 6 month pre-paid options. The monthly cost is £26. Or you can get a single purchase and just buy a one-off box.

There will be spoilers for the February box ahead!

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Book Discussion: The Rise of the Exclusive Edition

Has anyone noticed that exclusive editions, particularly in YA, have suddenly become a massive thing? I’m not even sure when exactly this happened. It seems to have grown slowly. Book subscription boxes have exclusive editions, usually signed, but also with alternative covers, sprayed edges or different end pages. Bookshops like Waterstones also sell exclusive editions. They are very enticing. The book industry seems to have caught on to the fact that people not only like books, they like pretty books, and I guess they also like the idea of having something that’s exclusive or limited edition.

I have only two of these editions. The first is the Illumicrate edition of Once and Future. I haven’t read it yet, when I bought it I didn’t know for sure if I would like it, but it was high up on my TBR list and it was so beautiful I couldn’t help but fork my money out for it. I also bought the Fairyloot October box which included The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh with sprayed edges and artwork on the dust jacket. I doubt they will be the last I am tempted into buying.  

One thing I’m not usually persuaded to buy is Collector’s Editions. I never buy more than one copy of a book. I know others do but it’s just not something I usually do. I often go into bookshops and pick up collector’s editions of my favourite books that have bonus content, but there never seems to be enough new content to persuade me I need another copy. There’s something special about the copy of the book I first read, that makes that edition the special one to me. Plus there are so many different editions of books that it could get expensive getting all those fancy hardbacks! I’m sure I’ll cave though and buy a collector’s edition at some point! I am tempted to get the Throne of Glass collector’s edition as I only have it as an ebook.  

To return to exclusive editions of new books, I see photos of them flying around Twitter and Instagram and am sucked in. They have definitely caught onto something with this. I’m not complaining. I like the idea of having something special. But it makes me so tempted to buy more books when I already have so many unread on my shelves! Also if there are so many exclusive and special editions out there, are they that limited or special anymore?  

What do you think about special/exclusive/limited/collector’s editions? Do you love collecting copies of your favourite books, or are you not all that bothered by special editions?

Fairyloot October 2019 Unboxing

This is my first unboxing post as I finally decided to order a subscription box, having been eyeing them up for ages! There are various book subscription boxes you can get, which usually include a book and a selection of goodies. Plus, it’s a surprise, as you don’t know what the book or items will be.

Fairyloot is a UK-based YA fantasy subscription box. If you subscribe, you get a box a month which includes a hardback book and 5-6 exclusive goodies around a theme. You can subscribe monthly, or there are 3 month and 6 month pre-paid options. The monthly cost is £26. Or you can get a single purchase and just buy a one-off box, which is what I decided to do. It’s pretty expensive to get monthly, so I just decided I would by a box occasionally as a single purchase when a theme catches my eye.

Be warned there will be spoilers for the contents of the October box in this post!

The October theme is ‘Love at First Bite’. I’m sure for a lot of people this must be their dream box, as there are a lot of vampire fans out there. I’m not super into vampires, but I really wanted the book in this box so decided to go for it. I got an eARC of The Beautiful and loved it, so wanted to get my hands on a physical copy and couldn’t resist a signed exclusive copy.

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